Saturday, 22 November 2014

Busy as a little bumblebeee...

So, it's been a crazy few weeks, not only have I been up to my eyeballs with work, doctors, social life, keeping fit and getting my legs as fit as possible ready for my operation, but I've also been trying to get as much artwork done as possible and been giving it priority over everything other than work, well, I've tried to anyway! 

I've got an art market in Plymouth on 7th December at Rumpus Cosy which I am thoroughly looking forward to.  I've used it as my main focus point in terms of getting work done and a platform to establish my sales etc. and get my online store and presense all sorted so I can at least try and fool customers into thinking I know what I'm doing, even just slightly!  I think this art market is going to be brilliant.  It's the first one from Native Makers and by the look of their facebook adverts, its got some amazing creatives showing their stuff.  I feel slightly out of my depth being put up next to the other artists, but I guess I'll just take it as a compliment.

If you want to come down to the market it's completely free entry with over 20 artists, designers, makers and creatives showing and selling their work from 10-5 on the Sunday 7th December at Rumpus Cosy, Derrys Cross, Plymouth.  There's more info here if you're interested.  I definately would love to see you there.

If you go to my website you'll see some of the sneak peaks up put up on my current work page, theres more new stuff to be shown on the day too!

Annnd, go here to like my illustration page on facebook. (This is most up-to-date out of here and my website because of easy access and speed!)

Look forward to seeing you there.  Niki x

(my ickle wabbit!)

Friday, 7 November 2014

I'm getting there...plodding on with this little fella (and the rest!)  I'm still not sure on a lot of them, but its ace to be set up at my ma's house, where I have a drawing platform, a computer with pixelmator, a scanner and printer and time on a winters night to draw, edit, draw, edit...and so on.

I've got his antlers on my tick list to complete along with creating some kind of backgrounds for all the designs I've done so this space!  My first market stall is coming up in less than a month!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

S'been a big ol' time since I was last here, haven't had the focus, time or patience to do so, until now!  I know, totally rubbish huh?
Well, I've now got a first class honours degree and I'm going to my graduation on the 18th of this month in Plymouth, slightly excited and nervous!  I've got both my parents going, they've been split up since 97 and I rarely see them in the same room, let alone see them chat!  We shall see how that goes!
I've also started doing my work for myself, rather than my degree.  I've got a couple of commissions on the go as well as a art market in December and I've designed and am designing peoples tattoos.  Here's some work I've started/finished/ruined in the last few weeks....see you in a few months!  (hopefully sooner, I'll try to be less slack!)

 A tattoo design I did for a work mate, Eve.  She's getting it tattooed this Thursday, will add photos of the finished tattoo!

 Mr Stag, who started off well and then I completely buggered it by over doing the watercolour and dark colours.  I'm going to trace his outline/photoshop the basic shape and start again, I won't let him beat me!

The beginning of my robin for my xmas cards for the xmas market.  so far so go, just really basic, think his legs look a bit long, but we'll try and sort that out further down the line...

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

summer show prep is not a summer holiday!

So, summer show is looming, along with the final practical's what I have planned...

  • An audio tour.  recorded with binoral microphones so it gives a fully surround effect to the listener.  I'm making it seem they're on a rural endangered wildlife tour.  With different sound effects, directions, information about the different species, you get a full tour of each artwork I've put around the city with bits suggesting the differences of urban and rural, how they juxtapose one another and what would be in and around the city if there wasn't a city there at all.
  • The pieces themselves.  I've chosen eight different species (after a lot of research, emailing large corporations and agencies for information etc.) that are endangered in the Plymouth/Devon area.  I've organised to put them around the city just before the summer show so they can be viewed by the public, by the audio tour listeners and by the fieldbook readers.
  • A 'forgotten' fieldbook.  I'm using a sketchbook/fieldbook as another way to bring people to view my work.  I'm going to have the original at the studio during the show but I'm also planning on printing a load of cheap almost crappy looking copies that are a lot smaller and easy to use as flyers.  I'll flyer these around the city to places like the tourist information centre, cafes, restaurants, the aquarium etc. anywhere that will have them really!  It will have a bit of info in them that the audio tour also has on it so that the viewers can learn a bit about each animal.  It'll also have a map in it so they can go and find and view all the works.
  • Studio desk.  I'm hoping to find a desk that will be made up to be Bills, the wildlife tour guide.  I'm going to leave it as if he's been using it but away from his desk.  It will hold my original sketchbook and business cards along with an array of props, such as dirty welly boots, a pair of binoculars, pressed and framed plants, wildlife books etc.
So, thats the plan...carrying it off is another story.  I've got about three and a half weeks left, a couple of days at work each time, pre op appointments and a life to live...focus is the only thing I need to do now...get on and focus...

Monday, 31 March 2014

The week I've been counting down for weeks is this week...

So assessment week is finally here.  Its not our final assessment quite yet but its still assessing work that is the beginnings of our summer show, I'm pleased I'm almost past this benchmark.  

As well as going out and working on putting out a couple of wheat pastes I've used as examples (see below), I've also done a video to document them and I've started the idea of a 'forgotten fieldbook' to be a handheld documentation of my drawn work out on the street.  I'm thinking it will have snippets of the actual wheatpaste in a scruffy sketchbook way as well as a few notes and other smaller drawings related to the species in question.  For example, The dormouse I've looked at, I'm going to add a half eaten hazelnut drawing to and the fritillary butterfly, I'm thinking I'll draw a small sketchy landscape of its habitat and the flower it is associated with etc.  Im going to add a map in the sketchbook with each wheatpaste marked off on it so that people can use it to explore Plymouth and my work in it.  

 So above and below are the images I've blown up and used for my assessment.  They and the video I've made document the places I've put my wheatpastes, the video shows the idea I want to work on for the audio.  Tied together the fieldbook and the audio will guide the viewer around the city to and past my pieces.  They will also aid in getting the message across about humans detrimental effect on these endangered species and their habitats. I'm super excited about it and I really hope it all comes together as I hope, as I think it will work really well!

Above is an image of a Dianthus armeria, a rare species closely related to our garden favourite, Sweet William.  Its really rare in the Devon area because of the reduction of its habitat.

 I placed it down on the barbican as it likes sandy soils and coastal regions.

The natterjack toad, near water by the Civic centre.  The next whatpastes I do for my final piece, I'll make sure I'm more careful about the positioning of them as I think the toads are sitting too high up, floating in the air.

 Another Natterjack outside the Civic centre.  I did one more of the same up on the Hoe but didnt think it was urban enough up around there.

This Dianthus is positioned on the bombed out church roundabout right in the centre of Plymouth.  I loved putting it here, its right in the open and even though its quite small you cant miss it!  Its surrounded by people and cars and big concrete buildings, exactly where it wouldnt usually grow.  I put it right here because naturally they grow in big open space.  I also placed another of the same in the Vue cinema car park suggesting a big open space again.  I am still to document this one. 

These are extracts of my sketchbook work that I'm yet to turn into fieldbook pieces.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Time is slowly running out but my ideas never seem to run dry...

So, this time next week I'll only have a day to go until I have my assessment, pretty nerve racking as I feel I don't really have much to show for the last couple of months so this week it's all hands on deck and no excuses Niki!

My toads, all ready for wheatpasting around the city!!

I've done so much research into my chosen species though, it makes me feel a bit better about my summer show.  I've emailed a lot of specialists, companies and charities to find out about local endangered species of flora and fauna.  Some people how got back to me very quickly with really useful information I can use and others haven't replied at all.

People who have replied are people like David Fenwick, a wildlife photographer who looks a lot at endangered species and he grew up in and around Plymouth and now lives in Penzance.  He told me great species such as Pyrus Cordata, the Plymouth pear, a wild species that is only found in Plymouth or in Truro at current.  I think this species would be great at full size for my summer show.  He also told me about Dianthus armerai, the Deptford Pink, which has been endangered in Devon for a number of years and is a really pretty flowering plant.  I've already started my work on this one...

 Black pen outline over the top of printed flowers with similar structure as the Deptford Pink.  It's nothing like my toad work or anything I've done so far this project but I actually really like it despite this.  Im going to see where I can go with the same style with a Fritilary butterfly or curlew...

 My extremely messy work station at work.  It may look unorganised, but I know where everything is...honest!

A couple of the drawings I did with added watercolour.  I think it looks good before theyre cut out as wheatpastes, but will wait and see how they look as wheatpastes, both colour or plain.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Janet Cardiff and her Case Study B...

So, I was given some ideas from my tutors recently in a tutorial and they suggested I look at researching into ways I can get my message across about humans and their effect on the surrounding environment.  My pieces of the endangered species or chosen animals plants etc. tend to show the subject as slightly worshiped or slightly idolized but the message about them being endangered because of humans movements and increase of space and habitat don't really come across.

Neil Rose gave me a sound artist called Janet Cardiff to research, saying the idea of a tour or some kind of spoken piece would work quite well in relation to my work.  So I looked at Janet's Case Study B and was completely blown away!  Her use of words and sounds link not only the listener to the space they're in, but also links the city itself to the work.  She twists in and out of different characters and trails from one tangent of thought to another whilst still making sense and leading the listener to where they need to be. 

Janet's work has made me have a really good think about how I could do something similar to link my work to the city itself (as I'm going to try and do species that are effected in this particular area) and to make it clear to the audience how our everyday actions have put other species in danger.

I'd like to get a bin-aural recording device so I can get the surround sound effect that I loved so much In Cardiff's work into my own.  Luckily, I have my father (who is a sound engineer), Neil (a sound artist) as my tutor and my fathers friends (who should have equipment I can use) all at hand who I can use and will help guide me through the technical aspects of the ideas I want to bring together.  But for now, I have to try to get my images done and finished to a level I feel happy with and can happily show it to the tutors at my final 302 assessment.  I've got to stop putting it off (the drawing itself) and concentrate on finding animals and plants I want to work on that are from around this area.

Watch this space...

Saturday, 8 March 2014


So I've been looking at the Natterjack toad as it is a decreasing and endangered species in the UK.  I've already drawn in great detail an piece but I wanted to have a go at something along the lines of gyotaku, similar to the work I did for my Atlantic herring.  So!  I went and caught an amphibian, a common frog from my garden pond!  I found a non toxic type of paint that I would try and print with.  I placed a dob of paint onto a large piece of paper and put the frog on it to move around as it pleased. Then I tried to take prints from painting a thin layer on it's back and gently pressing paper on it.

I can't say any of the printing of trails it left where much of a success and I think the frog was happy to be plopped back into the pond after twenty minutes of harassment, but I'm glad I've tried.  I've got a few marks where you can clearly see the outline of huge frog, so maybe I can do something with these.  We shall see!

Everydays an opportunity...

The last couple of weeks Ive been pretty slow on getting back into my final year.  I've had a pretty horrific car accident to get over but it hasn't stopped me, just slowed me for a while and now I'm getting back into my work, despite extenuating circumstances, I'm ridiculously behind.  So behind infact, I've got less that four weeks to complete a three month project that is worth 30% of my final grade and the lead up to my summer show idea. All I can say is EEK.

As I've previously said, I'm going in the direction of endangered species in the British Isles, well this was my starting point idea anyway.  I'm thinking of going a little more local.

As part of my Open Call application, I applied for a residency in Paris.  With this I wrote a Statement of Intent showing if I got the residency I would make pieces to put up around Paris of endangered or extinct species from the Parisian area.  This gave me the idea of making my current endangered species project more local to the Plymouth area.

In a tutorial with Steven and Neil, we discussed other ways to get the idea across to my art work.  We looked at Janey Cardiff and her piece Case Study B.  I love the idea of finding local endangered flora and fauna and making pieces of them around the city and finding a environmental scientist to do a walked tour just by sound.  This way, I can give a specific audience headsets that lead them around the city and talk about why I've chosen these specific flora and fauna and get my message across more clearly.

Exciting stuff.  A long way to go.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Once again, I plod on...

A warm room, fresh coffee, fruit and a cold and soggy view out the window.  These are the only things I need for another day back to university work.  I'm super happy though as I have most of my paperwork list ticked off for this week and its only Tuesday!  Just got to get updated on line then I'm back to drawing, the main reason I began this academic year in the first place.  So this makes me happy!
I have been researching a lot whilst I've been out of action.  I had a car accident at the end of November last year and at last I'm finally getting back to it with university work.  Its been a while and I'm so hyped to get back and catch up with everyone.  Everyone keeps telling me to slow down, but I've been so slow for the last two and a half months and now I'm ready to rock, so slowing down isn't really on the cards!

During my time researching my new project, I've found some incredible artists.  Some that made me wow, others that where huge inspirations and made me brim with ideas.  I thought I would write a few up on here because I feel they have a lot to answer for in my work!

 This guy is a Belgium street artist who has his art work all over Europe and the world.  I saw the above piece by the Thames when I went up to London last summer and was blown away by the detail in the size.  He gets permission to use the walls and uses them to make artwork that juxtapose nature with the urban site its at.  He does a lot of rats and small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels.
 His media is paint but when I first saw it I thought he was a wheatpaster because of the white background he uses on all his pieces.  It's an effective way of making his pictures stand out because of the contrast between the white background and the dark lines that make up the detail of the animals.

 I found his work hugely inspiring as it makes a statement being street art (similar to the ideas I carry out) and deals with juxtaposing nature and urbanisation, something that I have already thought of doing for my next project.

I also found Colin See-Paynton, an engraver who commonly looks at wildlife.  The markings and his style are so beautiful and they make you see the beauty in the animals he tries to capture.

I love how he uses an old technique of engraving and brings it back to fashion by making 'pieces' with it rather than the stereotypical engraving.  I would happily have one of his pieces on my wall!

Jamie Mills and one of my favourite artsits Sandra Dieckmann, joined together to make pieces on endangered species of animal.
 I love the idea of working on pictures of endangered species like they have, but I would like to be slightly more specific so it speaks to the audience clearly.
 I love Sandras work because of the detail and again, like the top two artists, she makes each picture of the animal seem iconic by the way she adds her own beauty to them.
So, yeah, these are just a splattering of my mostly inspiring artists that I've found.  Also I've used the app of pinterest to search for a lot of artists as it is easy and you can save the images of interest.  Also the pictures usually are linked to a related website, making researching stuff like this really easy and fun.

After looking and these artists and many others, I've have plenty of time to think about my next practical move.  I would like to look at endangered species within the British Isles and place them in Urban areas.  I think when people are surrounded by cities and urban landscapes, they can easily forget what natural habitats exist and what ecosystems and animals we also depend on outside of the city.  I want to look at animals we depend on or have wiped out because of our modern way of life and what the landscape used to look like before we became the lead race.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Time goes by...

Here are a few of the photos I took at the end of November of my turtle by the sea.  He's been very much weathered, eaten by slugs and invertebrates, used as a home by woodlice and because of all this, he's begun to fade.  I also took some videos at the same time that I caught these photographs to see the effect it had on showing the work in a gallery space.  I still have to give them a good tweet and edit them properly...

(my brother took these photos, he thinks he deserves recognition for them, so please facebook Joe Cooksey and tell him you think he is a GREAT photographer because of the quality of these photos...thanks!)